Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Magic Castle & The LA Weekly

I've known about The Magic Castle almost as long as I've lived in the Los Angeles area, but I've never been. I was always under the impression you had to know a magician to get in. C. Carrol Adams was our "magician" last night.

First off, when ccarrolladams (CCA) extended the invitation, I didn't think my husband would go, seeing as how he would have to wear a jacket and tie, and have to get off work at least three hours early. But to my surprise, he said he would. This meant that not only did I have to find a skirt for myself, but I would need to find a pair of dress pants for Mr. Sprocket, as well as a tie, and try to get the car washed. I don't get home in time from court to make the car wash. I'm hoping I can get that done, tomorrow.

I took the jacket he had with me to Macy's and just asked a salesman for help. I knew the pants size he needed, and I wanted to get a good tie, to bring all the colors together. After struggling with finding a pair of pants that were not too expensive and had a front pleat, I head over to the tie guy. Macy's had a great tie man, who was able to find something conservative, with all the colors of the jacket, pants and shirt. Thinking a big part of my shopping is out of the way, I head to the checkout only to find that Macy's entire computer system is down and they can't take a charge. And, they don't know when it will be back up. They can't take a check either because they can't verify it. I have zero time to go find an ATM, because I need to go to an entirely different mall miles away to shop for a skirt for myself, and it's already 7:00 pm. I plead with the cashier, to try to get a phone verification approval. About 20 minutes later, she's able to finish the transaction.

I get to the other mall, and look at black dresses. I found a nice style, but I wasn't thrilled to wear a sleeveless dress, and I couldn't find one in my exact size anyway. After digging through racks for another half hour, I find a perfect black skirt. I stop in the hosiery department to get a pair, head to the checkout, and then home. Mr. Sprock gets home a little bit later than I do, and I ask him to try on the pants. He asks me, "Did you get the right size with a front pleat?" "Yes, just like you asked," I reply. He had a 14 hour work day, and has no desire to try the pants on. He just wants to take a shower and relax a bit on the sofa.

Tuesday I drove to court, and as I mentioned on the prior entry, the traffic was terrible. I know that when I leave the courthouse, I will miss a majority of the traffic going home, but getting down there was bumper to bumper, all the way from the I-405. As soon as court ends, I say a quick goodbye to everyone, and walk as fast as I can to where I parked my car. I get home in virtually record time, about 40 minutes, and I make the car wash before it closes. I told Mr. Sprocket the day before that he would need to be home by 5:00 pm so that we could leave by 6:00 pm for The Magic Castle. No problem he says. I get home about 5:05 pm, and my husband arrives soon after that. We take our showers, and start getting ready. I iron Mr. Sprocket's shirt, then my blouse, while my husband is on the Internet, trying to find directions on how to tie a tie. He can't remember he says. He's bemoaning that I didn't get him a "clip on." He finds a web site with visual and written step by step directions, and I'm trying to read them to him while he tries to tie his tie. No luck. After several false starts, he abandons the directions and relies on memory. Success. It's 5:55 pm and he finally puts on the pants, then his shoes. The pants are too short.

Now I'm about ready to tear his head off for not trying on the pants yesterday. The pants I bought were labeled the correct size, but when we measure the inseam, it is an inch shorter. He is telling me that we need to take down the "cuff" so that the pants will be long enough. In my mind I'm going "Oh brother! I can't believe this!" This is because my husband, 99.99999% of the time, does not give a flying fig what he looks like when he leaves the house. But now, his pants are too short. He is absolutely insistent that we have to take the cuffs out of the pant legs. This involves unhooking the suspenders, getting out of the pants, and getting the iron ready to press them down, as soon a we take the stitches out. It's 6:05, and I can't find my seam ripper to get out the tight stitches on the inner and outer seams that are holding the cuffs up. My husband tells me, "I know it's right here somewhere, because I was using it for something yesterday." Groan. I now know I will never find the seam ripper because my husband has rarely in his life, ever put something back where it belongs.

I'm now panicking, because CCA has told me, we will be turned into frogs if we are late. We are supposed to be on time. I finally find a pair of tiny scissors I can use to take out the stitches, and then I have to press the pant cuff down as best I can. We finally get out the door by 6:15 pm, and I think, okay, we will just be a little late. But then we get on the freeway, and the traffic is a repeat of what I experienced this morning. My husband keeps asking, "Well, what time are we supposed to be there?" "I told you earlier today. Six-thirty pm," I reply. Now my husband starts freaking out. "Six-thirty! Betsy! You never told me when we had to be there! You just said when we had to leave. That isn't enough time to get into Hollywood!" And on and on he rants. Now the argument gets into full swing, as I remind my husband that when I was at the car wash, I told him what time we had to be there, and he keeps telling me that I never did. Yes I did. My husband, who never hears all of a conversation or the salient points says, "No, you didn't! If you did, I would have told you we had to leave earlier!" And back and forth it goes.

It's past 6:25 pm now, and the traffic finally breaks free near Barham Blvd., and we debate on which exit to take. Since the traffic has cleared a bit, we chance the Highland Blvd., exit. What a mistake. We are boxed in by Hollywood Bowl traffic. I know the intersection streets that the Magic Castle is on, but I can't remember for the life of me if it's east or west of Highland. I tell my husband we have to pull over, because the book map is in the trunk. I forgot to take it out after the car wash. After crossing the freeway at the Ford Theatre overpass, we pull over and I get the map out of the trunk. As we head south, I'm trying to find Orange St. We're coming up on Franklin, my husband is demanding which way we have to go, and I finally find the street. Damn. It's west of Highland and we are east. We shouldn't have crossed over to Cahuenga. We try to race down Franklin, but it's packed with traffic. We finally arrive at the Magic Castle, 20 minutes late, fully turned into frogs. CCA and houdinisback (dini) are waiting out front and when CCA sees up pull up, he raises his arms in the air as if to say, "Finally!"

As we enter the Magic Castle, we are transported back into the Victorian era. CCA checks in with the front desk, and then shows us where on the wall we have to say "Open Sesame," for the wall to roll back and then the hallway entrance into the restaurant appear. There are rich dark wood walls and velvet cushions and coverings everywhere. All the employees are dressed formally with white vests and the long coattail jackets. CCA was dressed in a very sharp suit. He does have an excellent tailor. And dini, what can I say? Just like Beth Karas, dini is a woman who is very in tune with fashion. She had on a white linen top with matching pants. As we are led to our table, CCA is pointing out everything to us. Everywhere there is something interesting to look at, (a painting on the wall or an antique looking sconce) and I feel transported back in time.

We order something to drink (CCA and I having club soda), and when our drinks come, we toast to what brought us all together. The Phil Spector Trial. The rolls that come to the table look divine. CCA says it's a sin not to at least try them ~it's a special Magic Castle recipe~ but I remain firm. I don't want my joints to ache in the morning. My husband tries one and is delighted with the taste of Cinnamon he detects. I'm quite torn with what to order from the menu. I'd like to order one of the evening's specials, the Sea Bass (because it's a Type O beneficial food, and I don't eat as much fish as I'm supposed to), but I play it safe and get the prime rib. My husband, who is quite particular about food (which is why he prefers to cook for us at home) orders the rib eye, and asks that it be fried in a pan with a few cloves of garlic. I think CCA also gets the prime rib, but I don't remember what dini orders. The food is perfect, and I eat every morsel of my asparagus and prime rib. During dinner, we discuss the trial, and the witnesses that were on the stand.

It's getting close to showtime, and we decide to save dessert for after the show. The magicians were fantastic, the first act being an extensive card trick act. The host magician was our comic relief between acts, and also did some tricks with cards. At one point, he picked someone out of the audience as an assistant. He gave her a deck of cards, and asked her pick two random people in the audience. Those two were to each pick a card, write their name on the card they picked and hand it back, and then she was to bring all the cards back to him. Since I am sitting in an aisle seat, the woman comes over to me, and I pick a card and write my name on it. Later on in the act, the two cards magically appear. When he calls out my name, to ask me what my card was, I'm totally embarrassed because I say, "I'm sorry! I didn't pay attention what card I picked!" And the whole room breaks out in laughter. And then I say, "I think it was a red suit, possibly the three of diamonds." Hooray. That's the card with my name on it. The next act is a wonderful magician who does extensive tricks with scarves and doves. It was amazing as one right after the other, he pulls five or six doves out of thin air, and then after putting them all in a cage, makes them disappear all at once. At the end of the act, he makes them appear again, one by one.

When the show is over, we make our way back upstairs, and wait in a little area for our table. In this area, in the ceiling just over a group of dinner tables in front of us, is the largest authentic Tiffany glass domed globe I have ever seen. It looks to be at least five, possibly six feet across. It's magnificent, and CCA tells us the story of how it was discovered when the house was first being renovated and restored by the founding members.

We get seated at a new table for dessert, and I notice another Tiffany lamp on a chain, hanging above our table. I forget what CCA has for dessert, but dini has (I think) the bread pudding, my husband has the creme brulee and I have the fresh fruit bowl, with blackberries, blueberries and strawberries. When we finally get up to leave the restaurant, CCA shows us the hallway covered with huge framed posters and photographs of legendary magicians who are part of The Magic Castle. He also points out the photograph of the founder, who is still considered a spiritual leader of the Magic Castle. The evening was very special for me and my husband, because we rarely treat ourselves to anything this elegant or fancy. Thank you CCA, for this wonderful experience. You were a delightful host and both you and dini great company for dinner.

On Friday, Steven Mikulen who is covering the Spector Trial for the LA Weekly, mentioned me as a blogger covering the trial in his latest article. Thank you very much Steven.